What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind?

While I was away honeymooning last week, my latest Doc Talk column posted over at Movies.com. The topic/question: What documentary has changed your mind. I focus on “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which opens this Wednesday, while also hearing from guests like filmmaker Robert Greene and Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles. Also included are recommendations of new releases “Buck,” “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” “Jig,” “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” “Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders” and (sight unseen) “General Orders No. 9.” Here’s a snippet of the column:

Call me the worst kind of skeptic, but I’m not one for being convinced by anything, let alone documentaries. They may tell or show me something I didn’t already know, whether it’s the daily routines of Eskimos or bible salesmen or theories about global warming. And sometimes I’ll believe what I’ve heard or seen to be true, while other times I’ll watch something as out there as Loose Change or Collapse and think, “hmm, maybe…”

I enjoy documentaries for the stories and characters and occasionally the unknown worlds it introduces me to. But while these elements and their whole can often affect me emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, it’s not too often I walk away from a documentary thinking differently about an issue than when I started the film.

Read more: Doc Talk: What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind? | Movie News | Movies.com

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Trailer: “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”

One of the most underrated documentaries of the year so far, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” debuted at Sundance to little notice save for a much-deserved editing award. I wish I’d written a full review, but I watched the doc before the festival and never found the time.  I haven’t stopped thinking about my experience with it, though. I went in thinking one thing about domestic terrorism and held onto that thinking almost up to the end of the film, after which I was left uncertain. Earth Liberation Front member Daniel McGowan is one of the most complex characters I’ve seen in film this year. I can’t stand him, but I can’t dismiss him either.

Directed by Marshall Curry, it’s not as brilliant as his Oscar-nominated “Streetfight,” but in spite of its comparative conventionality it really resonates and provokes a discussion — with yourself if not with fellow moviegoers. I like it a whole lot more than the other domestic terrorism doc, “Better This World,” which is getting more buzz, and I’m hopeful that it will end up doing well in theaters when it opens June 22 (then rolls-out through August). Tonight it plays its first Seattle Film Festival screening, by the way, and it’s also at fests in Telluride, Little Rock, Sydney (Australia) and Sheffield (UK) over the next couple weeks. Oscilloscope Laboratories just unleashed a spectacular new trailer, filled with fire and intense music, and you should definitely check that out after the jump.

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